Law Enforcement: Alabama Department of Environmental Management and Ashville Aluminum Secondary Processing Facility Reach Consent Order | Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, PLLC

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The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (“ADEM”) and Grooms Aluminum Processors (“GAP”) entered into a September 9 Consent Order (“CO”) regarding alleged air permit violations.

The CO anticipates that GAP will operate a secondary aluminum processing facility (“Facility”) in Ashville, Alabama.

It is stated that the installation includes the operation of a rotary furnace for melting aluminum metal. The furnace is operated under a synthetic minor operating license (“license”).

It is stated that the furnace emissions are controlled by lime injected fabric filters (“Baghouse”).

ADEM personnel reportedly carried out an inspection of the Facility on September 29, 2020. Inspection personnel observed constant visible emissions from the baghouse while on site. In addition, paragraph 8 of the CAO states that:

Between 4:46 p.m. and 4:58 p.m., ministry staff observed two 6-minute periods via the EPA 9 method where the opacity of the baghouse emissions was greater than 20%; during one of these 6-minute periods, the opacity was greater than 40%, in violation of clauses 7 and 17 of the permit.

In response to a notice of violation issued by ADEM, GAP said the current bag filter is undersized, resulting in excessive emissions. The bag leak detection system would not have detected the excess emissions observed by ADEM staff and would not have given the operators an alarm, in violation of clause 34 of the Permit.

During a meeting on January 5, 2020 between ADEM and GAP, the company reportedly reiterated that the current bag filter was undersized and indicated that it could not comply with the permit requirements. However, GAP has also reportedly indicated that it cannot shut down operations without suffering economically. Consequently, ADEM would have asked GAP to provide a detailed plan for bringing the Installation into conformity, including an installation schedule for any new equipment.

The CO provides that GAP neither admits nor denies ADEM’s assertions.

A civil fine of $ 12,000 is imposed. In addition, GAP undertakes to make any necessary changes, replacements, modifications or repairs to the Installation so that the Installation complies with applicable state and federal regulations.

A copy of the CO can be downloaded here.


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